Seven more local school children tested positive for COVID-19 over the weekend, including three eighth-graders and one sixth-grader at S.E. Gross Middle School in Brookfield.
The sixth grader who tested positive is a sibling of the one of positive eighth-graders. The cases at Gross School were announced Nov. 2 in an email sent to families by Brookfield-LaGrange Park District 95 Superintendent Mark Kuzniewski.
The eighth graders had already been quarantining, because they had been friends of and in close contact with another eighth-grader at Gross School who tested positive last week
“We’ve got a little pod there of eighth-grade girls who have not been adhering maybe as closely as they should to standards outside of school and this is a result of that,” Kuzniewski told the Landmark.
All the Gross students who tested positive were in different cohorts at school, so Kuzniewski said that he was confident that there had been no transmission of the virus at school.
The news comes at the close of a period in which the village of Brookfield recorded its highest number of new COVID-19 cases in a one-week span.
For the seven-day period ending on the morning of Nov. 3, Brookfield saw its number of COVID-positive residents jump by 41. The highest one-week total prior to that was 31, between May 12-19.
As of Tuesday morning the village had experienced a total of 497 cases, four of them fatal, since the pandemic hit in March. In less than one month, between Oct. 6 and Nov. 3, there were 108 new cases in Brookfield.
In Riverside, 16 more residents tested positive for COVID-19 for the week ending on the morning of Nov. 3, increasing the total figure to 268. The village saw 18 new cases in each of the two weeks prior to the most recent week.
For the second straight week, 11 people in North Riverside tested positive for COVID-19, raising that village’s total to 163 since the pandemic began in March.
More positive tests in D96
Riverside Elementary School District 96 also announced three new COVID-positive tests on Monday in an email to parents. Two of the students who tested positive are siblings, a student at L.J. Hauser Junior High School and a student at Central School. The other District 96 student who tested positive over the weekend is a student at Hollywood School.
In a bit of good news, the Ames School fifth-grade class that had been quarantining after two students in the class tested positive has been allowed to return to school after a week of remote learning.
The students who tested positive have to quarantine for 14 days. One of those students has already completed the required quarantine.
“It was our determination that there was not infection transmission in the classroom,” said District 96 Superintendent Martha Ryan-Toye.
That determination was based on contact tracing performed by the district and in consultation with the school nurse and public health authorities.
“They made the determination that it was safe to come back to school after the one week,” Ryan-Toye said.
Staff members have not been immune. Kuzniewski said a staff member at Brook Park School has recently tested positive for COVID.
Two staff members at Lincoln School in Brookfield, which is part of Lyons-Brookfield School District 103, also tested positive recently despite District 103 being the only local school district that has not allowed students, except for a few special education students, into their buildings.
Despite not having in-person school attendance, there have been seven positive tests overall in District 103 this fall.
Until this week, District 103 teachers had been required to come to school to teach remotely from their classrooms. But at last week’s District 103 school board meeting teachers’ union leader Toni Jackman strongly criticized the district administration for forcing teachers to report to their classrooms, saying that the district was putting teachers’ health at risk.
A few days later, on Oct. 30, the administration and union agreed that teachers could teach from home if they wanted to.
Superintendents are carefully monitoring the rising COVID case numbers but have not announced any changes. Kuzniewski and Ryan-Toye point to the apparent lack of in-school transmission as a reason to keep schools open.
“Being in school is still good for kids,” Kuzniewski said, adding that he does not see a switch to remote learning in the immediate future.
Ryan-Toye was more cautious, saying that she was carefully monitoring the positivity rate in suburban Cook County, which was 10.1 percent in suburban Cook County as of Oct. 30, and that she was ready for District 96 to switch to remote learning if cases continue to increase.
Kuzniewski said kids and families have to be more careful outside of school.
“I think some people just have to take more precautions outside of school,” Kuzniewski said, adding that he is worried that Halloween might result in more COVID cases.
Since school opened this year 12 District 96 students and eight District 95 students have tested positive for COVID.
Both Kuzniewski and Ryan-Toye said that they did not know of any serious health effects for any of their students who have tested positive for COVID-19.
Bob Uphues contributed to this report.